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  • Science Stats

    Planting trees could buy more time to fight climate change than thought

    A whopping new estimate of the power of planting trees could rearrange to-do lists for fighting climate change. 

    Planting trees on 0.9 billion hectares of land could trap about two-thirds the amount of carbon released by human activities since the start of the Industrial Revolution, a new study finds. The planet has that much tree-friendly land available for use. Without knocking down...

    07/17/2019 - 09:02 Ecology, Plants, Climate
  • Feature

    Moonlight shapes how some animals move, grow and even sing

    Crowds of people gather to watch an evening spectacle on beaches in Southern California: Twice a month, typically from March through August, the sand becomes carpeted with hundreds or thousands of California grunion. Writhing, flopping, silvery sardine look-alikes lunge as far onto shore as possible. As the female fish dig their tails into the sand and release eggs, males wrap around females...

    07/08/2019 - 06:00 Ecology, Animals, Astronomy
  • News

    Here’s the science behind some of your favorite things to do in summer

    Summer brings the heat — and in some cases a lot of it, as those who suffered through record-breaking heat waves in Europe and South Asia in June can attest. But the season also ushers in long days filled with plenty of possibilities for outdoor fun. Parks fill with picnickers. Mountain trails fill with hikers. And beaches and pools swarm with swimmers trying to beat the heat.

    Here’s...

    07/05/2019 - 07:00 Health, Ecology
  • News

    Why some insect eggs are spherical while others look like hot dogs

    Look at the nail of your pinky finger. That’s about the width of the biggest known insect egg, which belongs to the earth-borer beetle Bolboleaus hiaticollis. The smallest egg, from the wasp Platygaster vernalis, is only half the width of the thinnest recorded human hair.

    Insect eggs range across eight orders of magnitude in size, and come in a stunning variety of shapes, a new database...

    07/03/2019 - 13:00 Ecology, Evolution
  • News

    Parasites ruin some finches’ songs by chewing through the birds’ beaks

    Invasive parasites in the Galápagos Islands may leave some Darwin’s tree finches singing the blues.

    The nonnative Philornis downsi fly infests the birds’ nests and lays its eggs there. Fly larvae feast on the chicks’ blood and tissue, producing festering wounds and killing over half of the baby birds. Among survivors, larval damage to the birds’ beaks may mess with the birds’ songs when...

    06/21/2019 - 11:39 Animals, Evolution, Ecology
  • News

    The world’s fisheries are incredibly intertwined, thanks to baby fish

    Marine fisheries are typically managed by individual nations. But the fish in those stocks often originate elsewhere, according to a computer simulation of how eggs and larvae from hundreds of fish species ride ocean currents around the world.

    That finding means that many nations with economies that rely on fishing must depend on other countries to maintain important spawning grounds....

    06/20/2019 - 14:00 Oceans, Ecology, Sustainability
  • News

    Hyenas roamed the Arctic during the last ice age

    Modern hyenas stalk the savannas of Asia and Africa, but the animals’ ancient relatives may have had snowier stomping grounds: the Arctic. Two fossilized teeth, collected in Canada in the 1970s, confirm a long-held hunch that ancient hyenas ventured into North America via the Bering land bridge, scientists say.

    The teeth belonged to members of the extinct genus Chasmaporthetes, also...

    06/18/2019 - 06:00 Paleontology, Animals, Ecology
  • News

    Some fungi trade phosphorus with plants like savvy stockbrokers

    Some stringy fungi are tough negotiators, trading nutrients shrewdly with plants.

    An advance in tracking the nutrient phosphorus has revealed new details of ancient trading networks between fungi and plants. Some fungal species grow what are called arbuscular mycorrhizal connections underground, reaching intimately into plant roots. These fungi pull phosphorus from the soil and trade it...

    06/10/2019 - 10:00 Fungi, Plants, Ecology
  • News

    Worms lure two new species of hopping rats out of obscurity

    Two newfound species of shrew-rat have joined a lengthy list of endemic mammals on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago and a hotbed of biodiversity. Researchers made their discovery thanks to wriggling worms and a stroke of luck, and hope the finding might help sway legislators to protect the vulnerable ecosystem before it’s too late (SN: 6/8/19, p. 5).     

    The new...

    06/06/2019 - 10:00 Animals, Conservation, Ecology
  • News

    Shy fish no bigger than a pinkie provide much of the food in coral reefs

    Nervous little fishes that divers rarely notice could be unexpectedly important to coral reefs. A new study finds that nearly 60 percent of the fish flesh that feeds bigger fishes and other predators on a reef comes from tiny fishes that stick close to crevices and other hiding places.

    These tiny species, called cryptobenthic fishes, may not look as if they amount to much among all the...

    05/24/2019 - 13:46 Animals, Ecology